Differential diagnosis of linear corneal images on confocal microscopy

Cornea. 1999 Jan;18(1):63-6.


Purpose: This study aimed to detect corneal conditions presenting with linear images on white light confocal microscopy and to analyze their distinguishing characteristics.

Methods: In 1996 and 1997, 153 eyes of 110 patients with various corneal conditions were examined. In vivo examination of the cornea was performed by using a white-light tandem scanning confocal microscope. Images were captured by using a video camera and stored on S-VHS video tapes. In this retrospective study, patient charts and confocal microscopic video records were reviewed. Conditions with linear images were looked for, and the images were analyzed and compared.

Results: The only structures presenting as linear images on confocal microscopy in normal subjects consisted of corneal nerves. The following pathologic conditions also had linear images on confocal microscopy: corneal vascularization, mycotic keratitis, lattice corneal dystrophy, and posterior polymorphous dystrophy. Each condition could be identified based on its reflectivity, delineation, size, branching pattern, and location in the cornea.

Conclusion: Different corneal conditions present with linear images on confocal microscopy. Correct identification is critical to avoid misdiagnosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cornea / blood supply
  • Cornea / innervation
  • Cornea / pathology*
  • Corneal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trigeminal Nerve / pathology